Eased out of the NYPD, lawyer/shamus Stone Barrington (New York
Dead, 1991) is free to mix with an even sleazier crowd: a vicious
pair of blackmailers and their equally slimy victims. Stone's
client, gossip columnist Amanda Dart, has no rivals in dishing dirt
on New York celebs until the faxes headed "DIRT" start to spew from
her own machine. The faxes know about her cozy liaison with an
out-of-town developer; they know who she had dinner with, and who
each of her dinner guests is sleeping with; they know that she's
hired Stone to stop the flow of faxes; and they gleefully predict
that it won't do a bit of good. Meantime, DIRT is also being dished
on American Infiltrator editor Allan Peebles, a cut below Amanda in
class and courage; and DIRT is warming up for the coup de grace
against a third target. Stone isn't taking all this unauthorized
faxing lying down, of course; he's allowing Amanda to seduce him,
putting the moves on aspiring journalist Arrington Carter, and even
(in Woods's most hilariously gratuitous scene) getting naked with a
suspect's sister. In between bouts, he's discovering a passel of
wiretaps encumbering the privacy of himself and those who sign his
paychecks, and sending a retired NYPD colleague out on a
surveillance detail that'll end in the morgue. The first half of
the novel, highlighted by the bevy of willing, well-toned women
taking their turns at Stone's shrine, is confidently, even
amusingly predictable. But once Amanda's publisher Dick Hickock,
presumably impressed by Stone's flurry of activity, decides to hire
him on his own hook, the case begins to fall apart, as Stone's
clients begin to pull in contrary directions and finally take
matters into their own vigorous, aimless hands. Unmoored from their
formulaic roles, Woods's tawdry avengers don't have enough
substance to go it on their own. Besides, it hardly seems fair to
the poor blackmailers when they're badly outnumbered by well-armed
victims too despicable to root for. (Kirkus Reviews)
Coming hot on the heels of his bestsellers Choke and Imperfect
Strangers, Stuart Woods brings back one of his best-loved
characters, Stone Barrington, in a fast-paced roller coaster ride
through the murderous world of high-profile celebrity gossip.
Feared and disliked for both her poison pen and ice-queen persona,
gossip columnist Amanda Dart suddenly finds the tables have turned:
she is the unwitting victim of an anonymous gossipmonger who is
faxing national opinion makers an outrageous scandal sheet
revealing the details of her ongoing indiscretions with a
well-known business tycoon. So Amanda enlists the help of New York
lawyer and investigator Stone Barrington to learn the identity of
the faxer. The problem is, everybody is a suspect in the world of
tabloid journalism. As the faxes grow more scathing and begin to
expose the peccadilloes of not only Amanda but other members of the
gossip community, Barrington winds up with more leads than he can
handle and an employer who is about to take matters dangerously
into her own hands. The world of gossip has been turned on its
head, and it becomes clear to Stone that even the most respected
members of the social scene will stop at nothing - even murder - to
clear their names. Irresistible as only good gossip can be, Dirt is
a mesmerizing tale of betrayal and murder set against a backdrop of
the rapid-fire Manhattan tabloid business and is filled with the
twists and turns that have made Stuart Woods' novels international
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